Questions abound about the new Escalade, which is built on GM's new GMT-900 platform (as are the new Tahoe, Yukon, Denali, Suburban, and Avalanche). Will this Escalade platform sell as well as its predecessor? Will it become the vehicle to be customized in the future as the past Escalade was? Only time and unit sales will tell. I can tell you that the week I lived in this brand-new vehicle, I had both good and very bad impressions.

First, the bad: While this vehicle, I am sure, will impress many (and it is very nice), I personally cannot see or justify the $66K purchase price. The material and construction weren't quite up to the level of the new Audi Q7, for example, which sells for a similar price.

Once the Escalade was delivered, I noticed right off the bat that the rear lift gate wasn't power-operated. Funny, I remembered the Cadillac marketing team demonstrating the powered gate on another Escalade. Upon further inspection, I discovered that there is an electric motor for the gate and that it was working but not properly engaging. Chalk that up to being a somewhat abused press vehicle, I said. The vehicle came equipped with a second row of bucket seats, nicely apportioned and powered - the dual switches fit to the headliner, so these can be flipped out and back at the touch of a button. Guess what...neither switch worked as designed. Chalk it up to being an abused press fleet vehicle...again? Do these two things make me not want to ever purchase the '07 Escalade? Well, not personally, but I will say, abused or not, this vehicle came to us with roughly 7,000 miles on it and probably shouldn't have had these kinds of mechanical problems.

Another area where Cadillac entirely missed the boat is the folding rear third row of seats. Unlike the Ford Expedition or more luxurious Lincoln Navigator, whose third row of seats folds flat into the floor, the new '07 Escalade seats still have to be physically removed from the vehicle if you do not plan on utilizing them. Poor design move.

Now the good: I love the front-end treatment Cadillac has designed into the grille. By painting the recesses of the chrome grille, it makes the egg crate look more three-dimensional and the crown jewel it was intended to be. Also, I simply love the fact the design engineers finally got it right after all these years of attempting to compete with European auto manufacturers, who use black as their primary base colors both on the exterior and interior. Yes, finally a GM vehicle with a black interior - black leather for that matter. However, the one drawback, and again something GM still hasn't properly addressed, is that the black leather is only on the seating surfaces. So the sides of the seats, armrests (if there are any), and headrests are still vinyl, with the vinyl grain being as closely matched to the leather seating surfaces as possible. But, again, a major faux pas if GM or Cadillac are making an attempt to compete with the equally and comparably priced and equipped high-end SUVs. Our Escalade came loaded to the gills with nearly $9K in options, including 22-inch wheels and tires that some automotive journalists will complain ride harshly. But from my perspective, the 22-inch wheels actually help the overall appearance and handling.